Étape of the Day – Kragh Andersen does it again!

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Stage 19 of the 2020 Tour de France was always going to be straightforward for the GC contenders. Only crashes could have hampered their chances but no such worries for Primož Roglič in yellow, Tadej Pogačar in second and Miguel Ángel López in third overall. Everyone stayed upright, all safe and through to the penultimate stage tomorrow.

Today was all about the stage win, the breakaway and the green jersey. While the team classification determines the number one team (Movistar on track to do so again), it is fair to say that Team Sunweb have been fantastic at this year’s race – tactically spot on, prepared to take risks and now have three stage wins to celebrate.

Søren Kragh Andersen takes his second stage win to go with his victory in Lyon. The Dane attacked 16 km out from a break that included Peter Sagan, Sam Bennett in green, Greg Van Avermaet and Luke Rowe. Kragh Andersen never looked back even screaming at a TV motorbike for a secure time gap on the road – never mind Søren you were well clear!

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Huge credit to Team Sunweb who have emerged from Michael Matthews out of form moving to Mitchelton-Scott next year and Tom Dumoulin sadly crashing out of the Giro – 2019 wasn’t a great year but now put behind them. Marc Hirschi has made an enormous breakthrough, Søren Kragh Andersen taking two stages and getting into the breakaway on numerous occasions. There’s still one more opportunity to go in Paris with sprinter Cees Bol, you just never know what Team Sunweb could do at this Tour.

The green jersey is now all but sealed on the shoulders of Sam Bennett. His main rivals Peter Sagan and Matteo Trentin unsurprisingly got in the break to try and put pressure on Quick-Step but they’ve run out of road to stop Bennett now. The Irishman got into the break himself, scored more points at the intermediate sprint and in Champagnole finished eighth to more points. A total of 319 now, 55 points ahead of Sagan and 69 ahead of Trentin. All Sam Bennett has to do now is finish the time trial up La Planche des Belles Filles, make Paris and wouldn’t it be something if he could win on the Champs-Élysées to seal the deal.

Peter Sagan’s dominance in the maillot vert is over. Something fresh and new has arrived in the form of a serious competitor to challenge your throne. Just like Ineos having to change their thought process going into next year’s Tour, Peter Sagan will have a new challenge to try in 2021.

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Lots of riders in the break and most of them from team who have nothing to show at this Tour unless they try for the two remaining stages. Luka Mezgec, Jasper Stuyven, Greg Van Avermaet and Edvald Boasson Hagen all tried but Mitchelton-Scott, Trek-Segafredo, CCC and NTT plus many more won’t be taking anything from this Tour unless we’re proved wrong.

Two unfortunate incidents today with Pavel Sivakov suffering from a tumble and Bora’s Lukas Pöstlberger abandoning due to a bee sting in the mouth! Such an unlucky Tour de France debut for Sivakov after he crashed on the opening stage in Nice and let’s not forget he fell on the final stage at the Dauphiné – lots of sympathy for him.

The penultimate stage tomorrow as the final weekend sees the 107th Tour draw to a close. A time trial up La Planche des Belles Filles to bring the curtain down on the general classification. Richard Carapaz will be keen to keep his polka-dot jersey, the stage win is up for grabs too and who knows Primož Roglič could take it to end up with the ultimate triumph!

The final word must go to Søren Kragh Andersen. His stage win summed up what has been a pulsating and exciting Tour despite it being in September! We love the Tour; we love cycling and we cannot wait to celebrate the end of the race this weekend.

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Étape of the Day – Two stage wins in two days for Sunweb

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The Tour de France never disappoints, never stops providing drama and is never be an easy day for all involved. Before each stage every team has an objective, a plan and tactics to try and gain the glory. That was exactly what Team Sunweb did today, Danish rider Søren Kragh Andersen attacking at the perfect time after his team-mates did the same.

It was always going to be a tough day for the sprinters. Caleb Ewan managed to make the time cut but it is the fight for the green jersey that continues to shape up. Bora-Hansgrohe did all they need to do to distance Sam Bennett – putting him into difficulty, Peter Sagan taking points at the intermediate sprint and scoring more at the finish line. Bennett’s lead is now 43 points over Sagan so the race for the maillot vert is far from over.

The stage win and the day belongs to Søren Kragh Andersen though. Sunweb played the finale of the stage perfectly after Tiesj Benoot attacked on the penultimate climb, winner of Stage 12 Marc Hirschi did the same on the final climb and then on the descent Kragh Andersen went on a move to leave everyone for dead. The finale in Lyon was full gas bike racing at its finest and the Dane gets his first stage victory at a Grand Tour.

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Team Sunweb are in form, have two stage wins and who knows they could go further. After early disappointment with lead-outs for Cees Bol not going well, the German team have lit up the race after Hirschi winning in Sarran and now Kragh Andersen in Lyon. Ireland’s Nico Roche has never won a stage at the Tour de France so could he complete the set?

Once again, we have questions about Peter Sagan. It has turned out to be a good day for Sagan as he clawed back points to reclaim the green jersey but again Bora-Hansgrohe did all the work on the front to distance Sam Bennett kept on going before Sagan couldn’t deliver the final result. Today was all about tactics and Bora got everything right except being caught out by Team Sunweb. Lennard Kämna went away on the penultimate summit to chase down Tiesj Benoot, went away solo but that was in vain.

Sagan isn’t the only rider who’s not quite finding his mojo. He already has a remarkable stage win and stint in the yellow in the bag but Julian Alaphlippe just can’t find that final kick. On Stage 12 he couldn’t bring back Marc Hirschi as he left it too late and today, he let fly to catch Kämna but was brought back. It goes unexplained as to why Alaphilippe isn’t getting the rub of the green at the moment but opportunities are still there in the stages to come.

On paper Stage 14 looked easy for the GC but with two category 4 climbs in the final 20 kilometres it was always going to be a nervy day for the contenders. You just never know what could happen on a stage like today and in Egan Bernal he epitomised the unpredictable beast as he did accelerate at one point to follow Julian Alaphilippe’s attack. Was yesterday’s shedding of time to Primož Roglič not a fair reflection of Bernal? He still says he feels good but that will depend on the upcoming Alpine stages.

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Tomorrow could be a crucial stage in the race for yellow. The Grand Colombier has never hosted a summit finish until Stage 15 of the 2020 Tour de France. Primož Roglič will look to defend or perhaps strengthen his hold of the maillot jaune but tomorrow does look a suitable finish for Egan Bernal to go on the offensive.

No changes in the other jersey’s after today. Benoit Cosnefroy could seek to extend his lead in the polka-dot jersey and Tadej Pogačar keeps his white jersey for another day too. Cosnefroy will look to do all he can to keep the title of King of the Mountains as somewhat of a moral booster for AG2R La Mondiale. The team lost Romain Bardet to concussion this morning despite Bardet riding to the finish yesterday. There are lingering questions as to why he stayed on the race yesterday despite crashing and now we know that Romain Bardet from scans has suffered a ‘small haemorrhage’. Speedy recoveries to Bardet on what is a sad conclusion to his final Tour de France riding for AG2R.

No easy days at the Tour de France and they don’t get any easier.

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Étape of the Day – Hats off to Hirschi

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Talent and youth are in abundance at this year’s Tour de France. No surprises then that the young guns are shining at the race. Marc Hirschi is one super talent and after two attempts previously the 22-year-old Swiss rider gets his stage win.

Today was the longest stage – 218 km from Chauvigny on the banks of the Vienne river to Sarran in the hilly Corrèze department. From the off we saw attacks to get in the break fighting for the early intermediate sprint at Le Dorat. Nils Politt, Max Walscheid, Luis Leon Sanchez and Imanol Erviti got themselves in a breakaway and in the peloton, Sam Bennett swept up significant points to extend his lead in the green jersey.

The crucial part of the stage came on the category 3 climb of the Côte de la Croix du Pey when Team Sunweb launched Søren Kragh Andersen and Tiesj Benoot up the road after the break was caught. On the key climb of the day the Suc au May, Marc Hirschi himself attacked as the race split with other stage contenders. Marc Soler and Max Schachmann were in contention before a group with Julian Alaphilippe latched on but the attempt was too late.

Nobody could catch Marc Hirschi today. A fantastic burst of pace to attack on the Suc au May, descend down to the finish as others couldn’t get organised. With three riders finishing in the top ten, Team Sunweb played the day perfectly but Deceuninck Quick-Step did not. We already know the talent of this young man. At the Clásica San Sebastián last year Hirschi came second to Remco Evenepoel and at this Tour he’s already come close.

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Stage 2 in Nice he was just edged out by Alaphilippe and on Stage 9 we saw him do a daredevil descent off the Marie Blanque only to be denied by Tadej Pogačar in Laruns. What we have here is a new Fabian Cancellara and that’s not very surprising considering Marc Hirschi has surrounded himself with Cancellara to gain experience. Spartacus was spectacular so enter the new kid on the block who will undoubtedly go on to do great things! Today was suited to Julian Alaphilippe but he left it too late. The Frenchman might have a new rival for punchy hilly stages at Tour de France editions to come.

Good ride today by Max Schachmann as Bora-Hansgrohe continue to find that stage win they’re missing and also Movistar’s Marc Soler gave it a go too. We haven’t seen much from the Spanish team although they do lead the team classification. Alejandro Valverde has been the quietest we’ve ever seen him at the Tour in recent years which perhaps isn’t entirely surprising as Enric Mas is the team’s big GC hope.

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Sam Bennett’s lead in the green jersey has been extended his hold of green firm. Peter Sagan did everything he could to instigate a move at the start of the stage but was once again shut down at the intermediate sprint. Benoit Cosnefroy stays in the polka-dot jersey and at the moment AG2R are in prime position to take the jersey all the way to Paris. Cosnefroy could get himself in the break tomorrow and win more points but they do have Nans Peters as back up.

No change in the GC, Primož Roglič with another day in yellow tomorrow but will he keep it? Stage 13 is arguably the hardest stage of the entire Tour in the Massif Central – seven category climbs with an incredibly difficult finally up the Puy Mary. Who will attack? One minute 42 seconds separate Mikel Landa in tenth to Roglič in yellow just 21 seconds are between Egan Bernal and him taking yellow.

The Tour climbs again tomorrow. Marc Hirschi delivers a captivating stage win – who else will create some special stories at this year’s race to come?

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